The Austin Chronicle

Movie Studios Play Santa With Three Christmas Day Openings

By Kimberley Jones, December 25, 2012, 12:31pm, Picture in Picture

“It’s that time of year when we head to the multiplex accompanied by people we normally wouldn’t see movies with.” So writes Chronicle reviewer Leah Churner in her intro to comedy Parental Guidance, one of three new films ready to be unwrapped in movie theatres today.

Three new films, pitched at three very different crowds, open today. Parental Guidance – aptly rated PG – is a family comedy starring old pros Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as grandparents babysitting an unruly brood. Our reviewer wasn’t too terribly impressed (she awarded the film 2 stars), but she did credit the actors “for the professionalism they bring to this stinker, especially Marisa Tomei, who plays it straight as a contemporary have-it-all-or-die-trying mom, and Midler, who’s given little to do, but works up an amusing backstory about her days as a good-time gal on the evening news.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Quentin Tarantino’s R-rated, hyperviolent epic Django Unchained, about a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) and a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) teaming up to take down a plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). In her 3.5 star review, Marjorie Baumgarten writes:

Django Unchained has obvious roots in the spaghetti Western .... Yet [it] is also a love story, a revenge picture, and an action comedy. Leave it to Tarantino to blend all these generic components into a fluid whole, weaving in and out of the narrative objectives like a virtuoso artist at a loom.”

Settling somewhere in between these two extremes is Tom Hooper’s long-awaited adaptation of the stage musical Les Misérables, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. In my 3.5 star review of Les Misérables, I called it “human and heartfelt and a potent piece of cinema, most especially for fans of the musical hungering for nearness to the material.”

For theatres and showtimes, see Film Listings.

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